The effects of over-parenting

their-own-victory

Today I read an article called, How Do I Know When I’m Over-Parenting? Licensed psychologist, Michael W. Anderson and Timothy D. Johanson, M.D., talk about the parent’s tendency to dote on children beyond those first 12 to 15 months, beyond what the child needs, oblivious to the children’s hints of, “I got this.” They talk about over-parenting as the tendency to over-do it in any one area: over-talking, over-complimenting, over-criticizing, over-interfering.

I initially started thinking about this concept after I was called out at a public park for not hovering. My son was a new walker and had toddled about 10 – 15 feet away from me. He was moving at an extremely slow pace and exploring a large grassy area. A nosey passerby stopped and called out, “whose watching this child?” I was baffled. I was hurt. I was standing just feet away watching my son enjoy his new skill while exploring the grass. I immediately felt defensive. I’m right here. And for the first time, I began to question, who does helicopter parenting benefit; the child or the surrounding strangers?

The article mentioned above does not contain groundbreaking revolutions. In fact, there are numerous studies and teaching strategies that focus on the benefit and necessity of fostering independence in children. One example is Maria Montessori (1870-1952) who stated, “When dealing with children there is greater need for observing than of probing” and “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” Today, over 4,000 Montessori schools have been developed in the united states, operating on these concepts, and there are thousands more throughout the world.

Whether they realize it or not, I often hear other mothers complain of what I would call the effects of over-parenting or helicopter parenting. Let me explain.

  1. Exhaustion.

    Parenting is tough, but over-parenting puts unnecessary pressure and stress on a parent. Just the act of dragging yourself out of bed and getting yourself ready in the morning while simultaneously caring for and preparing another human being is a learned skill. This alone can be exhausting. New parents often struggle with this advanced form of multitasking and joke about the last time they showered. I get it. During that first year it seems like you can’t get away. The moment you try, baby spits up, or blows out, or starts screaming inexplicably. However, one day this changes. Sometime after baby turns a year, baby can handle himself a few minutes in a safe environment. If you have safety-proofed then now is the time to let go. Get clean. Eat hot meals. Sit back and watch your budding toddler in amazement. The constant managing becomes exhausting and it is not good for your health.

  2. A disconnected relationship.

    I do not think there is anything that causes as much strain on a marriage as having a baby. With lack of sleep, whose turn it is to tend to the baby, differences in parenting styles, strained finances, and loss of freedom, there are just so many great topics to choose from when picking an argument. Some couples merge out of the first time parenting fog and reconnect rather quickly, finding strength in this shared experience. Other couples continue to struggle beyond that first year. Often I see this happening when the child is still the first priority and a primary focus over the marriage or the family as a whole. Now is the time to stand back, hold your spouse’s hand, and marvel at the small human you are creating.

  3. Lacking confidence.

    I have noticed that many children of helicopter parents seem to be less confident in themselves. These are the children still clinging onto their parent like a life preserver. They haven’t yet developed the confidence to explore the world on their own, or maybe, the reassurance that you wont be far away if they need you. I have tried my best to give my 19 month old son the encouragement he needs to have confidence in himself. Just today he walked straight up to a little girl his age and said, “Hi, I’m Apple.” Now, that’s not his name, but close enough and I had to just stand back and admire the confidence he showed by putting himself out there to make a new friend. That’s something that a lot of adults still struggle with.

So maybe can we agree that helicopter parenting isn’t the best? Can we find the strength to stand back and let our children explore the world around them so long as they are safe? Even more, can we let go of our fear and judgement to support other parents in this challenging step of letting go just a little?

Don’t fall for this holiday scam!

Several of my friends have posted invitations to join this year’s Secret Sister gift exchange. These same invitations flooded my newsfeed last year and honestly, I am amazed to see them back. The friends who are posting these invitations are intelligent people and I want to believe, in the spirit of the holidays, just as much as they do that these are legitimate opportunities for a fun holiday gift exchange. However, these posts leave me thinking of red flags rather than red bows.

If you are considering taking a gamble in the spirit of Christmas, here’s what you need to consider:

  1. The math doesn’t add up! The post reads like a second grade math problem to me. 1) If Sally sends Mindy one gift, and Mindy sends Noel one gift, and Noel sends Sally one gift, how many gifts does each girl receive? (Answer: 1).  2) If Sally and Noel both send gifts to Mindy and Mindy sends one gift to Sally, how many gifts does Noel receive? (Answer: none).  Plainly put, if everyone is sending 1 gift and receiving 36 gifts, where do the extra 35 gifts per person come from?math
  2. The fact that the post says “this is not a scam” tells me that it is probably a scam! Well, that and the fact that searching “gift exchange scam” yields numerous news stories with headlines such as, “Officials Warn About Secret Sister Gift Exchange Scam.” The holidays are a time of joy and giving for many, but for others, it is an opportunity to take advantage of a person’s goodwill. An article published by NBC quoted Lee County Sheriff’s Office fraud specialist Beth Schell saying, “We have issues with fraud and scams year-round, but particularly during the holidays because we’re looking for deals over trying to get a special gift.”
  3. You are putting yourself at risk for identity theft by sending your personal information to complete strangers! And if you have children, that is all the more reason to resist sending your address to people you do not know.
  4. Finally, and here’s the part that many don’t realize, it’s illegal! An article published by ABC News reported, “The United States Post Office considers this a chain letter which is a form of gambling.”

The surest way to know the gift exchange you are participating in is legitimate and safe is to organize it with your own friends, family, or co-workers. Sure, you will probably leave a Yankee swap among friends with some Poopauri or Fifty Shades of Chicken, but it’s better than receiving 36 boxes of disappointment for the holidays.

Travel with Baby: Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Travel

My husband and I recently took a 14 hour road trip to Florida with our 9 month old that rendered us coffee guzzling zombies for days. Now that I am home and slowly resuming human form, I am able to identify several major lessons learned about traveling with a baby under the age of one.

Prior to having baby co, I was fortunate enough to take several trips within and outside of the U.S. My mindset in planning these trips was to plan a five star vacation on a two star budget. Sometimes that meant sacrificing some time on layovers, driving instead of flying, and hoofing it to main attractions. After several trips with baby co, I’m realizing that the sacrifices that once led to affordable quality vacations will now only lead to a coffee addiction and early female balding.

I know there are moms who exist famously on the motto have baby will travel, but I have to assume those moms are accompanied by babies very different from mine. Babies whose lists of hobbies include sleeping in the car, playing with any toy for more than a minute, and people watching without feeling compelled to scream demands at said people. These slightly less than charming characteristics of my little prince make this motto seem outright laughable.

The things that afford us a five star trip with baby co come with a five star price. The non-stop flights during prime time nap time or bed time with our little love strapped snugly in his Ergo carrier. Accommodations ideally located with limited travel times to main attractions and include a separate bedroom area for baby to sleep undisturbed. And of course, a carefully packed bag of unlimited puffs, creativity, and wet wipes.

Thus far, the mistakes we have made have been failing to take into account the person our son is. He has never been someone who enjoys the car. He struggles to sleep in the car with the bright lights, passing trucks, random bumps, and occasional fuel stops. It was a mistake to think that an overnight car trip to Florida would be met with anything less than a sleepless night and lots of crying and frustration (on his part and ours). Sure, we saved $200, but I have to think a few more trips like that would lead us to re-invest the money into anti-aging remedies, an exchange that’s probably not worth making.

I think it’s time to admit that the days of the affordable five star vacation are behind us, at least until we have an older, more flexible kid.